I admit it. I’m an early adopter. I bought the Nintendo DSi XL today. I originally had ruled it out since it didn’t have increased resolution or any other new features. However I changed my mind when a kindly GameStop sales guy asked me if I wanted to pre-order one a few weeks ago.
Fast forward to today – the DSi XL seems perfect for me.
What’s good about it?
- The form factor
At first I thought this would be a con. It might not fit my pockets. It might be too heavy. Even after unwrapping it, I was concerned.
Instead, I found that I can actually hold it
better than a DSi or DS Lite. That is because my hands can grip the entire bottom half. With the DSi and DS Lite, I tend to hold on to a bit of the top half too to stabilize it with one or both of my index fingers. That is tends to stress out my hand, so I found myself being more comfortable with the XL even though it may weigh a bit more. My guess is that Nintendo realized that older folks (I’m in my thirties) were playing portable games more and we tend to have larger hands on average than kids.
- The stylus
There’s actually two styluses (stylii?) included. One is the regular DSi stylus that fits in the console itself. The other is a large pen-like stylus that reminds me of a Waterman. This larger pen-like stylus is really comfortable in the hand for an adult.
I actually got another pair of small/pen-like styluses with an XL protection pack by PDP. The big pen-like stylus has a gel grip which is even more comfortable.
- Pixels are easier to hit
Another shortcoming which actually turns out to be good is that the touchscreen and the top display screen don’t have any more pixels than a DSi or a DS Lite. The pixels are just bigger. That is easier for a developer – sidenote: expect to have some complaining in the near future about iPhone apps on the iPad due to the difference in resolutions.
It is also easier for the user on touch-screen intensive games like SimCity DS or Advance Wars: Dual Strike. Users have typically preferred the D-pad due to this. The DSi helped this situation out somewhat, but the XL takes it to a new level with a screen that is roughly twice the size. What that means is the hit area for any given pixel is increased to 4x! This combined with an easier to hold stylus makes the XL much better for (stylus-driven) touch-screen games. iPhone and iPod Touch are still the best for touch-screen games without a stylus.
- Pre-loaded DSiWare
I bought the DSi when it first came out as well – about a year ago. I was pretty pleased with it but I had a hard time deciding on what to spend my points on. I traded it in when I bought this XL and when I did, it still had the original 1000 DSiWare points.
The XL comes with a photo clock (yawn), two Brain Age games (the math makes me feel good, the other one is a little frustrating) and the standout – Flipnote Studio (no relation to Webnote.) Flipnote is a way to create flip-books, animations basically. It is easy, fun and a really great use of the console, I think.
It also has a browser (Opera) which I of course tweeted from. Tip: use the m.twitter.com site instead of the regular site – it works much better on the DSi and DSi XL.
Alright – so what are the cons, or what could be better?
Definitely the most expensive DS you can get. This is almost a luxury item compared to the $60 cheaper DS Lite. I showed my XL to a friend and he called it “the Lexus of the DS family.” That was pretty insightful – the Lite is the Toyota (pre-floor-mat days) and the DSi is now a mid-market item.
Still, it is less expensive than the base level iPod Touch and the iPhone (with contract included.)
- No place for the big stylus
While the small stylus has integrated storage like the DSi or DS Lite, the big pen-like stylus has no place on the XL to live. It is like I need to get a daily planner-like cover that I can hook a pen onto. For now I’m just stuffing it in one of my other pockets.
- No video capability and camera resolution still relatively poor
I really wish the XL could take some video even in SD. Also the resolution of the camera is still relatively poor although I have only taken a few shots. So the XL won’t replace your digital camera – even the first generation iPhone camera is better. But the integrated camera + calendar is handy for taking shots to include in-game like in the Flipnote Studio.
On the other hand, the included photo editing tools are still better than what I’ve seen in a lot of devices – at least for ease of use.
The bottom line:
I think the DSi XL is perfect for adults who play DS games and want a more comfortable playing experience. It is easier to hold, the screens are much bigger, the touch-screen is easier to use and the pen is more comfortable to use. It can even fit in adult (men’s) pants pockets.
For children, I’d recommend sticking with the DS Lite. It’s cheaper and better sized for their hands. It’ll also fit in their pockets better.